It was around 7.00 PM by the time the Caledonian Sleeper had reluctantly approached the platform at Glasgow Queen Street station before coming to a halt. After a proper night’s sleep and having an excellent breakfast in bed, I was ready to hit the ground running; it was a new day after all, and couldn’t wait to discover Glasgow.
In this blog, I shall attempt to give you a glimpse of my recent experience as part of travelling by train from London to the Scottish Isles. This post deals with the second leg of the trip and includes the route from Glasgow to Fort William.
Glasgow is one of the liveliest cosmopolitan destinations in Europe. The city has been reborn as a centre of style and vitality set as a reaction against Victorian architecture. Glasgow boasts world famous art collections, the best shopping in the United Kingdom outside London, and the most vibrant and exciting nightlife in Scotland. The city’s original Gaelic name, Glaschu, means ‘Green Place’ and it boasts one of the greatest arrays of public parks and woodland in Europe.
Make sure to check out The Mackintosh House, which was home to Glasgow’s most famous architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, from 1906-1914, as well as the Hungarian Museum, the oldest museum in Scotland.
The Glasgow Necropolis is another must-see. Described by James Stevens Carl as “literally the city of the dead”, 50.000 individuals have been buried there. Check out The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis website for guided tours and more information regarding the place’s history.
For those into shopping head to Glasgow’s “Style Mile”, a central shopping district which includes Buchanan Street, Argyle Street and Merchant City.
The journey starts under the 1880 wrought-iron roof of Glasgow Queen Street. Considered by many to be the most scenic rail journey in the world, the West Highland Line leaves Glasgow behind and delves deep into the wild west coast. The journey time between Glasgow Queen Street and Fort William is about 3¾ hours. Normally there are three trains running daily. This service is operated by ScotRail.
A seasonal catering trolley is available on some trains but do buy your own supplies in advance if you want to be on the safe side. Speaking of sides, make sure that you sit on the left hand side for the best views.
The Route from Glasgow to Fort William
As the diesel engines growl up the bank through Helensburgh, you enter a world of deep forests, towering mountains and mirrored lochs. The views along Loch Lomond are some of the best of the trip.The mountainous panorama is complemented by picturesque views over long lochs. After Bridge of Orchy, the line climbs Rannoch Moor, past the former crossing point to Rannoch station. In winter, the landscape is often covered with snow, and deer may be seen running from the approaching train. The station at Corrour is one of the most remote stations in Britain. However, it is not accessible by any public road and the summit of the line at 410m above sea level.
The day was a mixture of sunshine and showers which suited the scenery perfectly.
Built near Ben Nevis, the first public train arrived at Fort William in 1894, but it was not until 1901 before the Mallaig extension was inaugurated.
Advance fares for Glasgow–Mallaig start at £15.70 each way, so the cheapest return is £31.40.
The West Highland Line from Glasgow to Fort William & Mallaig in Scotland has been voted as the world’s best train journey. And rightly so, as it is not only the most scenic train route in Britain, but one of my personal favourites as well as you can do this trip all year round. In the next blog, I’ll be exploring Fort William before travelling to Mallaig, the gateway to the Isle of Skye where I’ll be heading to straight afterwards.
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